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A Visit from Dr. Billy Graham

The evangelist stressed his gratitude for Christianity Today's faithfulness on Scripture and the gospel.
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Yesterday, November 3, Christianity Today's board of directors had the privilege of meeting with the magazine's founder and honorary chairman, Dr. Billy Graham, who turns 93 on Monday.

In his new book on aging (excerpted here), Graham has been forthright about the health challenges he has faced. "All my life I was taught how to die as a Christian," he wrote, "but no one ever taught me how I ought to live in my latter years."

Despite reports of Graham's great physical difficulties, the wheelchair-bound evangelist spoke in a clear and deliberate manner. He recognized friends and praised those who were caring for him.

But Graham focused most of his words on the magazine he founded. "I am so grateful for Christianity Today," he said, "because it has stayed true to the Scriptures and to the gospel from that day to this."

He then urged the staff who were present never to waver on these two things: the inspiration of Scripture and the centrality of Jesus Christ. And if you do stray on these things, he told them, "you're likely to get a letter from me!"

Graham then reminisced about his relationships with the magazine's early editors, Carl F. H. Henry and Harold Lindsell. He also praised the work of his father-in-law, L. Nelson Bell, for establishing the magazine's commitment to news coverage.

When he spoke of the board's first chair, Harold John Ockenga, he remembered the prominent Boston pastor introducing him when he was to speak to students at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Afraid that he didn't have the educational credentials to be convincing to these students, Graham told Ockenga to use lots of big words in his introduction. Not only did Ockenga use big words, Graham remembers, but he used so many words Graham didn't understand that when Ockenga sat down, he wasn't sure that he had actually been introduced.

In an e-mail, current board chair John Huffman told me that he had been present for this event as a 10-year-old and remembered it just the same way. That Graham told the story to CT's board of directors demonstrates that he has retained his humility and self-deprecating sense of humor.

The staff of Christianity Today joins millions of others around the world in wishing Billy Graham a happy 93rd birthday. We are grateful both for his vision and his support through the years.

July/August
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